April 25, 2024

When generative AI tools first entered the public sphere in late 2022, many schools and educators gave them icy receptions. Students were passing off AI-generated essays as their own work. And it was very hard to tell the difference. 

But relations between educators and generative AI tools have thawed as educators have taken steps to incorporate generative AI into their lessons and allow students to use generative AI tools in class work. Those steps, however, are taken with caution. On one hand, teachers say they want to acknowledge that generative AI will likely be used extensively in professional life. On the other hand, they also need to design coursework that helps students demonstrate their mastery of the subject using their intellect, without the aid of tools. 

Here, three educators from different parts of the world – IEEE Senior Member Suélia Fleury from Brazil, IEEE Member Gloria Washington from the U.S. and IEEE Member Poonam Chaudhary from India – discuss how they use AI in the classroom. 

Some See Generative AI as Inevitable

“The use of artificial intelligence is inevitable in educational teaching,” said Fleury. “I have not yet incorporated the application of AI into teaching and lesson plans, but I do not prohibit its use, as I believe it is necessary to address this integration.”

Using Generative AI Requires Disclosure

“Universities now allow students to use generative AI if they cite it in the homework and assignments they turn in,” Washington said. 

It May Not Be Appropriate for Foundational Courses

“Some courses like ‘introduction to programming’ do not allow first-year students to use tools to generate code,” Washington said. “This is because they are dependent on learning the basics before use of these tools.” 

Can Generative AI Level the Playing Field?

“Generative AI offers students a way to validate their skills, thought processes and knowledge, while simultaneously automating tasks that may not align with their strengths,” Chaudhary said. “Not all students possess every skill set. This diversity can relieve the pressure of achieving mastery in all areas.”

Teachers Definitely See Value in Helping Them Teach

“The thought of AI in education takes me to a future where it helps me create on-the-fly frequently asked questions, gathers materials that learners with different styles can utilize to practice their skills and allows students ways to interactively verify the theory that underlines topics and concepts,” Washington said.

How Do Hallucinations – Facts an AI Model Makes Up – Impact the Usefulness of AI?

“If a person requests [from AI] a brief description of a particular term without having grasped the topic fully, they may end up repeating incorrect and disjointed information generated by the AI,” said Fleury.

Verification and Validation Are Strong Educational Tools

“Teachers and professors are using generative AI to help students teach applied theory,” Washington said. “Essentially, they are starting with a solution or output from the generative AI and asking students to verify the solution via the principles and techniques in class. They have to decide whether the output is valid or not. This is from the standpoint of programming classes, data science techniques and user interface design techniques.”

If a student uses AI, can we say that the work does or does not reflect their mastery of the material?

“The work submitted by students using chatbots can obscure the individual capabilities of each student,” said Chaudhary. “By relying heavily on these tools, students might not engage in critical thinking or explore beyond the information provided by the AI. This reliance on chatbots without validating the information can lead to a superficial understanding of the material.”

Learn More: Educators continue to grapple with the use of AI in education. One of the most popular articles in IEEE Access is Artificial Intelligence in Education: A Review. Check it out. 


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